2010-11: Kasperi Kapanen played for KalPa Kuopio’s U16 team as a 14-year-old and attended the Pohjola Camp for the top young players in Finland. He scored 14 goals with 8 assists and had 10 penalty minutes in 26 U16 games.
2011-12: Kapanen scored at nearly a point-per-game pace for KalPa’s U18 team and was among the leading scorers for Finland’s U16 team. He scored 13 goals with 11 assists and had 6 penalty minutes in 27 games, including two playoff contests, for the Kuopio club. Kapanen and KalPa teammate Miikka Pitkanen scored 11 goals each to lead Finland’s U16 team and Kapanen had 6 assists; finishing +11 with 20 penalty minutes in 13 international games. Skating for Finland in the 2011 Europe Youth Olympic Games tournament he scored 4 goals with 2 assists and was +3 with 2 penalty minutes in six games.
2012-13: Kapanen made his SM-Liiga debut in December 2012 — joining his father, former NHLer Sami Kapanen, in the KalPa Kuopio lineup —and was one of the top scorers for KalPa’s junior team. He represented Finland in three international tournaments, the 2012 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August, the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship, and the 2013 U17 World Hockey Challenge in Canada. Kapanen scored 4 goals and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes; averaging 11 minutes of ice time in 13 regular season SM-Liiga games. In four playoff games he had 1 assist and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes. He played 36 games for the KalPa U20 team, scoring 14 goals with 15 assists, and was -3 with 16 penalty minutes. Kapanen played 13 games for Finland in the two U18 tournaments, scoring 9 goals with 5 assists, and was +7 with 6 penalty minutes. In five games at the WHC he scored 3 goals with 6 assists and had 4 penalty minutes.
2013-14: Kapanen assumed a full-time role for KalPa in Finland’s re-christened Liiga and was named to the Finland U20 team that captured a gold medal at the 2014 World Junior Championship. Shuffling between the second and third lines for KalPa — at times skating with leading scorer Arturri Lehkonen (MON) — he scored 7 goals with 7 assists and was -8 with 10 penalty minutes; averaging 16:31 minutes of ice time in 47 games. Kapanen missed time with a mid-season shoulder injury that kept him out of the WJC. KalPa Kuopio missed the Liiga playoffs; finishing last in the 14-team league. Kapanen played for Finland in the 2014 U18 WJC, scoring 1 goal with 1 assist and finishing -3 in five games. Finland finished sixth in the tournament, falling 10-0 to Sweden in a quarterfinal game. Kapanen was the top ranked European skater in the Central Scouting final rankings and was selected by Pittsburgh in the first round (22nd overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Kasperi Kapanen plays a cerebral game with the skills and speed to allow him to make the proper plays in all situations and make the players around him better. While not overwhelming from a physical standpoint and with room to continue growing, his hockey sense is on par with the other top players in his age group and he maximizes his talents to get the best out of his game.
Kapananen attended the Penguins training camp before returning to Finland to skate for KalPa Kuopio in 2014-15. Slowed by a thumb injury to start the year, he has skated in a top line role for the Liiga club. He had a difficult tournament for Finland at the World Juniors — finishing with just one goal in five games — but is highly-regarded as a prospect. Like other top young Finnish players Aleksander Barkov (FLA) and defenseman Risto Ristolainen (BUF), Kapanen has played in Finland's elite league as a teenager, showing the ability to compete and have success against players that are bigger and older. The physical elements of North American hockey and the size and strength of NHL players will be a challenge but Kapanen has a rare combination of skill and hockey IQ that put him among the better forward prospects in his age group.